European Workers in Brazilian Coalmining, Rio Grande do Sul, 1850–1950

  • Clarice Gontarski Speranza
  • International Review of Social History, September 2015, Cambridge University Press
  • DOI: 10.1017/s0020859015000371

European migration and coalmining in south Brazil

What is it about?

Coalmining in Brazil began in the mid-nineteenth century in the municipality of São Jerônimo, Rio Grande do Sul, the country’s southernmost state. European workers were brought in and joined Brazilian workers, mostly local peasants with no experience in mining. This article discusses the role played by the immigrants in the making of a working class in the coalfields of southern Brazil. The research on which this article is based draws on numerous sources, including lawsuits and the application forms used to request professional licences. It focuses on ethnic and racial ambiguity, and on political strategies. The identity of the miners in the region is commonly represented as an amalgam of all ethnic groups, but this article shows that this self-propagated solidarity and cohesion among workers had its limits.

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